In an achievement 31 years in the making, the New York Islanders will have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Isles, who last made a playoff appearance in 2016, will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round. The seven-game series will begin at 7:30 ET on Wednesday, April 10, at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Off to a Good Start

In what was expected to be a rebuilding year, the Islanders saw immediate success after shaking up the organization. Coming off a 2017-18 campaign that saw them go 35-37-10, the team replaced their general manager, head coach, and captain and improved their record to 48-27-7. Their 103 regular season points this season is the franchise’s most since 1983-1984.

Former longtime New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello hit the ground running this past offseason when he was hired as the Isles president of hockey operations. Lamoriello named himself general manager, replaced last year’s head coach Doug Weight with Stanley Cup-winner Barry Trotz, and saw newly installed captain Anders Lee lead the team in goals for a third consecutive season with 28.

The Islanders defense made substantial improvements in just one year. The team went from allowing an NHL-high 296 goals in 2017-18 to winning the William M. Jennings Trophy by allowing a league-low 196. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss became the first Isles goaltenders to claim the Jennings Trophy since Billy Smith and Roland Melanson won the award in 1982-83 (en route to the team’s fourth consecutive Stanley Cup). Lehner went 25-13-5 with a 2.13 GAA (3rd in NHL) while Greiss was 23-14-2 with a 2.28 GAA (4th in NHL). The goalies combined for a single-season club record 11 shutouts.

Evenly Matched in the First Round

New York will square off with the Penguins in the First Round, who were just three points behind them in the Metropolitan Division standings (44-26-12, 100 points). Pittsburgh is led by star center Sidney Crosby’s team-leading 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists), which was fifth-best in the NHL. The teams split their four regular season games, with both teams winning once in regulation and once in a shootout.

Though the Islanders split home games between the Barclays Center and NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the team will play all of their first round games at the Coliseum. The Coliseum is where the Isles last held home-ice advantage in a playoff series in 1988 and where the team called home for all four of their Denis Potvin-led Stanley Cup championship runs between 1980-83. Any subsequent rounds that the team qualifies for this season will be played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin with five games on the evening of Wednesday, April 10. The playoffs feature four rounds: three rounds of conference matchups before the Stanley Cup Final. All series are best-of-seven and follow a 2-2-1-1-1 format.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, the Eastern Conference top seed, hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:00 ET to begin the action on Wednesday. The defending champion Washington Capitals begin their quest for consecutive championships at 7:30 ET on Thursday, April 11 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins First Round Schedule

Game 1: Wednesday, April 10 – Penguins at Islanders – 7:30 ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Friday, April 12 – Penguins at Islanders – 7:30 ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Sunday, April 14 – Islanders at Penguins – 12:00 ET (NBC)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 16 – Islanders at Penguins – 7:30 ET (NBCSN)
Game 5: Thursday, April 18 – Penguins at Islanders**
Game 6: Saturday, April 20 – Islanders at Penguins**
Game 7: Monday, April 22 – Penguins at Islanders**

**TBD if necessary

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